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Coping with Discouragement

“Coping with Discouragement”
Testimony of Mark Christie

I was a Jehovah’s Witness for 40 years, from 1960 to 2000. This testimony tells my story, how and why I left the Witnesses and came to Christ and New Life Assembly.

I was born January 2nd 1960, at Deaconess Hospital, about 3:30 P.M. My mom’s maiden name was Norene Felber, and my father’s name was Ormal G. Christie. My mom was German and a Lutheran and my dad was a Presbyterian of Scottish and Danish descent. However, I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness from birth. This is how it happened: it was about 1958, and my mom was searching for the right religion. One day, a Jehovah’s Witness came to the door, and mom accepted a Bible study with them and later was baptized. My father didn’t accept the Witnesses until about 1962, and then he was also baptized. From about 1960 to 1975, I was in the North congregation. In 1975, I moved to the Williamsville congregation, to which I belonged until 1986.

I never had any other choice than to be a Jehovah’s Witness. I started in the ministry when I was 8 years old, and I also started giving talks in the ministry school. I remember giving a talk on stage. One time, I looked in the audience and started laughing for no reason. I was very embarrassed.

As a child, my life was not pleasant; it was both controlled and sheltered. My mom was a strict disciplinarian. She was a tough old German, who took no guff from anyone. Growing up, I was not allowed to associate with anyone else except the Witness kids and my older siblings.

I started kindergarten when I was 6. This was especially difficult, because I was different. Going through elementary school and middle school I couldn’t salute the flag, there were no birthday celebrations and no holidays. Yet, I did fairly well in school. I had about a B average.

I wanted to get into the school band, but my mom said no. She shot down everything that I tried to achieve. My dad was easy going, so I guess my mom had to be the one to lay down the law. Sometimes I was ready to climb the walls. Way down deep, though, I knew my parents loved all of us kids. As a family we did things together like camping, trips, and outings. As a family, we had a summer cottage at Java Lake, which is 45 miles from Buffalo. We went there in good weather on weekends. I think my mom was somewhat paranoid because my other brothers got into trouble when they were young and that is why she was overprotective of me.

When I stared in middle school, in about the 6th or 7th grade, I started having problems. Because I was small for my age, I was picked on a lot. I tried to fit into the crowd, but it didn’t seem to work too well. I guess I was apprehensive about telling my classmates about my religion. I took woodshop for a year and mechanical drawing. I hated this class because the teacher didn’t teach very well, and I ended up getting an F and going to summer school. I barely passed that summer. So, it was in December 1975, that after having so many problems in school, and missing a lot of days, I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to drop out of school. I had planned to get into the building trades, but that didn’t happen. I now had to think about what I would really like to do. After about six months, in the summer of 1976, I started working with my dad in the fire extinguisher business. It was hard work, and after doing this for a little while, I started getting severe back pains. I went to the doctor and found out that I had developed scoliosis or curvature of the spine, the result of growing too fast. The doctor told me that because I was still growing, the only solution would be to wear a back brace for 23 hours a day. I worked for my dad for 8 years, and then in late 1983, I decided to start my own business, which I began the following February.

In December of 1985, on their way back from Atlanta, Georgia, my mom and sister lost control on black ice near Erie, Pennsylvania, and were killed by a tractor-trailer. My dad was traveling behind them in a separate vehicle. I was devastated, and as a result I moved to the Tonawanda congregation, where I stayed for six and a half years. Then, in the spring of 1992, after having been unfairly removed from my responsibilities in the congregation, I moved to the Buffalo East congregation. I was there for about 2 ˝ to 3 years. It was during that time that my dad got sick with shingles. My life became unbearable, and on top of that, after a period of time, the brothers wouldn’t give me any privileges because my dad was sick.

After that, several members of the congregation, including me, were shifted around. I was asked to go to the Starin congregation, where I remained for 5 ˝ years. Once again, I started having problems in the congregation. I started dating a married woman, who was legally separated from her husband. In the spring of 2000, I took her and her kids to Florida. This turned out to be a big mistake. When I got home, the elders found out about it, and they counseled me for this situation. This is when I started drifting away from the Witnesses and then things went into a downward spiral. I continued going out with this woman for about 8 or 9 months, and she was disfellowshiped by her congregation. As the months went by, things got worse. In November, my brother died. When I called up the elders to tell them, instead of comforting me, they attacked me. They asked why I hadn’t been attending meetings, lied to me about having called me, and told me that they wanted to talk about the situation with my girlfriend. They failed to show me any compassion and any sympathy for my brother’s death. After having been a Jehovah’s Witness for so many years, I felt that I should have been treated with more respect. I said, “How dare you! What mitigated gall you have.” Then I got upset, as all of those emotions were building up inside me. I finally said, “I am through with this evil organization.” From November 2000, to just before Christmas, I went back into the world. I did the party, bars, and smoking thing. Finally, I got tired of all of this, and I decided to call my friend, Brother Jay, to see how he was doing. This began my journey to Christ. I had previously found out that Jay had put me on the prayer chain at New Life Assembly, and after talking on the phone for about an hour, he started telling me about this church. After careful consideration, I decided to go with him to an elder’s house to my first Barnabas group. This was just before Christmas of 2001. In June 2002, at CT’s house, I gave my life to Christ and was led to Him by Pat Neyman. On March 28, 2004, I was baptized.

New Life Assembly has been a blessing to me. Thank you, Brother Jay, Brother Pat, and most of all, thank you, Jesus.

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